How to choose the right shovel: material and shape of the handle

How to choose the right shovel

A shovel is designed to move loose material, such as soil, sand or gravel. We therefore recommend choosing a shovel based on the type of material that you want to move and what you want to use it for. As with spades, there are many types of shovels.

Tip 5 Material and shape of the handle

High-quality handles and shafts are made from ash wood. This long-grain wood is ideally suited for sturdy and flexible handles. The grain must run along the entire length of the handle, however.

Polet’s Traditional shovels have wood handles made from hickory wood. This wood is similar to walnut wood and is very sturdy and resilient. It is ideally suited for heavier work. 

You can also make very nice shovel handles from beech wood, but this slightly cheaper type of wood is more susceptible to moisture, resulting in warping.

The shaft and handle of a shovel are slightly at an angle to facilitate scooping. The angled socket ensures that the shovel is well-balanced, meaning you don’t have to exert as much force when shovelling.
The handle of a sand shovel and a concrete shovel is 130 cm long, so that you don’t need to bend as much and can work ergonomically. At its thickest point, a shovel handle should have a diameter of 41 mm, which makes for a sturdy handle. The handle will have been tapered so that it fits perfectly into the shovel blade.

A Dutch shovel has a handle with a T grip and is usually 95 cm to 110 cm long. You should always choose a handle that suits your height. A Dutch shovel for digging has a handle that is at a very slight angle from the blade whereas the handle of a Dutch shovel for scooping is at a greater angle. 

A swan neck shovel has a straight handle, measuring 130 cm, because the curved socket already ensures proper weight distribution.

In addition to traditional wooden handles, Polet also sells fibreglass-reinforced plastic handles (polyamide). These fibreglass handles (Fiber 3001), which have the same shape as our wooden handles, may be hollow inside but are 2 to 3 times stronger than traditional handles. Our Dutch shovels come with Fiber 3001 handles of 95 to 110 cm, with a plastic T grip.


Obviously, the finish and design of a shovel will have an influence on its price. That is why you need to consider what you want to use it for and how often you intend to use it. A first criterion is whether you are an occasional or a professional user, but always remember the saying: “Cheap is expensive”.

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